I have been too long away from non-fiction so this book was a slow and difficult read for me. However, it was definitely worth the read. We all know t...moreI have been too long away from non-fiction so this book was a slow and difficult read for me. However, it was definitely worth the read. We all know the story of Cleopatra, a story we've probably been told from novels and/or movies. Cleopatra was a beautiful seductress who loved and manipulated two great men, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. But she was so much more. She was a Ptolemy...from a family who was well known for murdering each other to gain power...yet she was rare in this family in that she actually loved her father. Her love for her father led to her passionate love of her country and this was most important to her above anything else. So yes, she did use some feminine wiles to protect and secure her position, but she did so shrewdly and without compromising her honor, at least in her own eyes and the eyes of her subjects. The Romans' opinion of her was entirely different and not favorable. Schiff really brings to the fore just how skillful Cleopatra was, whether we know the whole truth or not. So much of the accounts of Cleopatra's life were written by Roman (and other) philosophers who often did not have good opinions of her either.
I learned things in this book that I previously did not know. I did not know that Cleopatra had four children. I knew of Caesarion, her son with Julius Caesar, but did not know that she had three children with Mark Antony, two boys and a girl. I also did not know that the daughter, Cleopatra Selene, would go on to be a queen in Africa...pretty much following in her mother's footsteps in her rule there.
This is an excellent book for people who enjoy non-fiction and for people who would like to learn more truth behind the legend. There are rumors that a movie is being made based on this book and that Angelina Jolie may play Cleopatra. I am rather disappointed by this news, as it is clear from the book that Cleopatra was not a true 'beauty', her seductive ability aside. Someone less attractive, but capable of sultry gestures and manipulations would be more appropriate, in my opinion. Like Hollywood cares what I think, right?!
There are two reasons I like this book. 1) It's short and to the point and 2) it make sense. I much prefer self-help/empowerment books that are not to...moreThere are two reasons I like this book. 1) It's short and to the point and 2) it make sense. I much prefer self-help/empowerment books that are not too long. I mean, you're trying to help yourself. Who wants it to take five years to read a book, right? And I want said book to make sense. I don't know how many times I've read a book like this and ended up scratching my head wondering what the hell it is the author is talking about. Robert succeeds in making sense by talking about ten words (or five principles) to finding your authentic self. After he describes the process, he then goes on to apply them to certain questions people have about aspects of their lives, such as: fear, regret, right and wrong, self, success, and others. What he says about the past is to learn from it and let it go. You are not the person you were so move on. Pretty simple, huh? Sometimes we have to be told it or read it again and again for it to sink in. And what does he say about success (and this is my favorite new quote)? "Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing. How can you succeed or fail at that? My new mantra! I really liked this book. If you're looking for some authenticity in your life, I recommend you check it out. (less)
The Women of the Cousins' War was written to bring to light the "truth" behind the women featured in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War trilogy, The Whit...moreThe Women of the Cousins' War was written to bring to light the "truth" behind the women featured in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War trilogy, The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Lady of the Rivers. Jacquetta (The Lady of the Rivers), Elizabeth Woodville (The White Queen), and Margaret Beaufort (The Red Queen) take center stage in this exploration of their lives and how they were very much a part of the Cousins' War, or the Wars of the Roses. I have to admit to not knowing much previously about the Wars of the Roses except for the most minute details. I found the accounts of the events very interesting and thorough in this book.
While Philippa's "essay" was supposed to be about Jacquetta (mother of Elizabeth Woodville), her section really centers on the unfolding of the events in the Cousins' War...we really do not learn too overly much about Jacquetta. However, I don't fault Gregory for this, as she does state in the introduction that very little is known about Jacquetta. What Gregory does reveal about Jacquetta is that she was a loyal and staunch woman who bore fourteen children--a major feat in that era.
I found that David Baldwin's account of Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV and mother to the princes in the tower and the future queen of England, Elizabeth, mother to Henry VIII) was the most interesting, as he explores both sides of what was said about her. On one hand, she has been maligned as a witch, that she obtained her marriage to Edward IV through sorcery and that once she achieved such high status, she became a cold and calculating person. However, in some accounts of the time, she is portrayed as a generous and charitable woman who was patron to many religious institutions. She also had a great love of learning and the written word.
The final woman featured in the book by Michael Jones, Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VI and grandmother to Henry VIII), would seem to have had one end in mind and that was the advancement of her son, Henry. According to Jones's account, this was quite the truth. Throughout the maneuverings of the Wars of the Roses, Margaret had only one goal and that was seeing her son on the throne and, as we know, she succeeded. Margaret was the most tenacious of the three women, in my opinion.
In conclusion, I have to say that I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I now have more knowledge about the Wars of the Roses (the Cousins' War) and I look forward to reading more about the all the other individuals who were involved in the events. Also, I have not yet read Gregory's Cousins' War trilogy (although I own two of the three books) and I feel that when I do, this book has given me great insight into the true events behind the fictionalized stories in the books.(less)
I've only read several pages and I can already tell that this one is a winner! Can't wait to implement with my sons. Ironically, some of the things sh...moreI've only read several pages and I can already tell that this one is a winner! Can't wait to implement with my sons. Ironically, some of the things she suggests, I already do. =O)(less)